A hearing was held on May 2nd by Ambler’s Borough Council that involved amending the Transit-Oriented Development Zoning Ordinance. Ambler’s borough council adopted the ordinance. The amended ordinance replaces a portion of the transit-oriented development language that is currently in Ambler’s code that limits transit-oriented development to properties that have frontage along the railroad tracks. The new language would change this to be 800 feet in any direction from the platform of the train station within specific zoning districts.
The amendment impacts three zoning districts, RSC (Retail and Service Commercial), OC (Office Campus), and I (Industrial Zoning Districts). So for example, much of Ambler’s downtown area of small retail falls within 800′ feet of the train station. This area would not be included because it is in a different zoning district.
If you aren’t familiar, transit-orient development is used to build density around transportation hubs. Montgomery County has been encouraging municipalities with train stations to pass these types of ordinances. Ambler actually adopted one of the first transit-focused ordinances in 1996, so in this case, Ambler has amended an existing ordinance.
The amendment was sought by Summit Realty Advisors, which seeks to build a 92-unit apartment building at 9 North Maple Street. Summit Realty Advisors has a history of redeveloping properties in the area of the train station. It renovated the boiler house building into office space and built the 114-unit apartment community The Crossings at Ambler Station (Disclosure – The Crossings is an advertiser on AroundAmbler.com).
To move forward with its plan for 9 North Maple Street, Summit will need to be granted a “conditional use” from the borough council. In this process, a developer has to show that they have met all of the requirements outlined within the zoning code. If the council determines that these conditions aren’t satisfied, the developer would need to change the plan or seek a zoning variance from the zoning hearing board.
During the hearing, Summit’s representative also stated that the developer also plans to move forward with a second phase of The Crossings at Ambler Station.